The De La Rue Koala Pen


This one is a bit unusual. It’s a Koala Pen made by De La Rue for, I assume, the Australian market. There is a possibility that it was made by the Australian distributors, Norman Baker and Longhurst, as they made Onotos after 1957. I would have thought that this might have been a bit earlier than that, but it’s hard to tell. It would be interesting to know how it made its way back to Britain.
The pen measures 12.2 cm capped and it’s in a beautiful gold/brown/black marble. The end of the barrel and the finial are black. It has a small red decal which looks as though it is made from a different plastic and affixed with heat. This contains the letter “M” which I assume indicates that the nib is medium. This is the usual DLR&Co Warranted 14 carat nib.
The more I look at the imprint “The Koala Pen” the more it seems to me that it is an impression made with a hot iron. It’s quite a rarity. They do pop up from time to time but I haven’t actually seen one for several years.
I’m not sure whether that clip is original or not. I don’t have much in the way of reference on De La Rue pens, and they’re quite hard to search for online as they are generally masked by the more popular Onoto. On balance, I would say it’s more likely than not that it isn’t original, but memory fails me.

It’s a nice oddity and it clearly fits into somewhere in the declining years of pen production by the De La Rue company.

11 thoughts on “The De La Rue Koala Pen

  1. would agree Deb that first impressions might suggest earlier than the date you mention, but always ready to be proven wrong.
    I’ve also acquired one along the way, but not as attractive as yours, and I have barely nine tenths of what I assume was the original pen – it’s a dull dark green, also with the ‘M’ decal – same barrel imprint but in upper case, and with gilt coloured ball-end clip and fill lever. The cap and barrel finials are both black Date wise I’d have guessed at late ’40’s or very early ’50’s – but not sure.

    Somewhere in the past the pen seems to have been subject to some mishap/tinkering, and appears to lack the original nib and feed – the current gilt coloured nib reads….. STAINLESS – TRIUMPH – No. 343 – B.S.P. Co. – and what appears to be B’HAM. The feed has a rear end hole into which a flexible 1.5 mm spring is connected and this in turn has been pushed into one of those old fashioned fibre rawl plugs, and the feed no longer fits the section.
    All a bit of a Heath Robinson job, and not fit for writing, but a curio.
    Is anyone able to provide a little info. on these nib markings please?

    I no longer marvel at the distance personal items travel – glass, pens, and most easily portable bits and bobs seem to travel the globe with ease.

    So, I wait for someone to send me the correct nib and feed – for which I will pay handsomely:)

    1. I can’t help you with that nib, Paul. There were so many companies making nibs in Birmingham that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all. The feed in my pen is quite ordinary – very like a Mentmore, in fact.

      Interesting that you should have an example of this pen as well. I would like to see a photograph of the cap, if that’s not too much trouble.

  2. I just happen to have seven of these here, which I have recently photographed for the Onoto book. Your pen looks right in all details except for the clip, which should be plain, with a ball end. All but one of the seven had a similar M sticker in perfect condition – without trying to pull one of these off, they appear to be a heavily-embossed thick paper, quite securely stuck to the cap. Unfortunately, none of them were fitted with nibs, so I can’t help on what should be ‘correct’. The barrel imprint is simply THE KOALA PEN, no other details.

    1. “I just happen to have seven of these here…” That’s quite a statement! How did you manage to amass seven of these pens which don’t turn up very often? Thanks very much for the information.

      1. They don’t belong to me, they are part of Steve Hull’s incredibly comprehensive DLR/Onoto collection.

      1. It will be launched at the London Writing Equipment Show at the start of October 2016, as Deb says Steve Hull is the author. Further details should appear in the summer issue of the WES Journal.

  3. Hi – I have one exactly as the one pictured except for the ‘M’ imprint. It is in very good working order and writes beautifully. Any idea the value? Thel

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